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Author of 1,000 Mitzvahs tells how she gets publicity

Our guest blogger is one of my Book Publicity 101 alums,  Linda Cohen, author of 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness, Can Heal, Inspire and Change Your Life. In addition to writing, Linda speaks around the country on volunteerism, parenting, philanthropy, and, of course, mitzvahs. For more information visit her website follow her on twitter (@mitzvahs), or become a fan of 1,000 Mitzvahs on Facebook.

Author of 1,000 Mitzvahs tells how she gets publicity

By Linda Cohen

If the secret to great real estate is location, location, location, then the secret to great publicity is persistence, persistence, persistence.

Since my book, 1,000 Mitzvahs, launched in November 2011, I have learned three important things regarding publicity:

  1. Expect to do a good deal of your own publicity even if your publisher has assigned a publicist to your book. Pitching the media can actually be kind of gratifying, so don’t be afraid of it.
  2. Don’t expect anything, but do keep persisting.
  3. Start at the local level and grow from there.

Learn to pitch

On the recommendation of my publisher (Seal Press), I took Sandra Beckwith’s “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz” online course six months before my book was published. This was an important decision for a number of reasons.

It taught me that even if I have a publicist helping me, I am sometimes just as effective at generating opportunities for my own book promotion. I learned how to successfully put together tip sheets and pitch ideas. I was also inspired to begin to build my social media platform.

This meant that when the book finally did launch, I was positioned to successfully pitch media myself and even felt confident about taking the lead for dozens of opportunities. Sandra gave me several suggestions that I put into place once the book was published. The best one was the suggestion that I offer a daily mitzvah idea on Twitter and Facebook. It has been an effective tool for engaging my readers. I also learned the secret to pitching with the seasons and holidays, essentially keeping the book top of mind and continuing to build exposure throughout the year.

Manage your expectations

If you’re starting to promote your book, I recommend that you tap into your networks, but don’t assume anything. When my book was published, I knew both a producer at a local television station and an editor at a local parenting magazine and you know what? I have neither been on that station locally nor in that magazine. I have, however, been on several other local stations and in the other parenting magazine in our town. It reminded me that just because you know someone doesn’t mean they will give you exposure.

Start locally

Regardless of your connections, starting locally definitely makes sense. Local opportunities can generate national opportunities. I was recently interviewed on the  national show “Better TV” on Fox, an opportunity that came to me through a local TV appearance. My local networking activities led me to a producer at the local Fox affiliate who invited me to be a guest on the station’s talk show.  While at the studio, I met the general manager, who later recommended me for a national show produced by the network in New York City. (Watch me on Better TV at this link!)

Work while you travel

I also learned to organize book events when traveling for work or pleasure. Before traveling to Detroit for a family gathering a few months after my book came out, I scheduled a book signing with a small independent book store. This local appearance allowed me to successfully pitch a local morning show on an in-studio appearance and to be interviewed by a local Jewish newspaper, which ran a full page article on my book.

I’ve worked this system with my publisher’s publicist on four trips this year and was able to get on television in three cities. That’s a pretty good track record!

Pitch with persistence

My advice is to pitch, pitch, pitch – and don’t give up.

I pitched a book-related article with a timely hook to my local Jewish newspaper. Even though I know the editor personally, the article didn’t run. So I contacted an acquaintance in Los Angeles with the same article idea, and she used it. That never would have happened if I didn’t persist.

You never know what will work and what won’t. Don’t despair if something isn’t successful. Keep pitching and networking. Start local but don’t expect anything . . . and always hope that there’s a bit of luck on your side.

Has persistence ever paid off for you when promoting your book? Did something good happen because you refused to give up?

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  1. Great advice, Linda! Thank you for sharing. This was so helpful, not for only launching and promoting books either. In general, promoting oneself with persistence and hope is the key. I will not give in because of disappointment; I will decide to be recharged by it instead! Love and Light to you and your family. Mazel Tov for such amazing success.

  2. Great suggestions. I especially liked the recommendation about building promo into travel. I never really considered this and as I am traveling quite a bit now, this has really helped me. I research when I travel but will now try to build promo activities into my ventures as well. Thank you.

    1. Marianne, you just need to plan ahead when you travel to get that book signing, speaking engagement, or media interview lined up. Good luck!


  3. Linda, thank you for sharing your process for getting publicity. I self-published my first book of poetry and photographs: Winter’s Mystery-Time To Go Within:Spiritual Journeying. I was on my own. I started off with book signing in my home and went to the local radio station and was interviewed. Next, I went to local libraries and some purchased my book. My local book stores have the book-no sales yet. Then I signed up to do a workshop on: Self-Publishing 101 at my local college. Yes, your suggestion to begin local was positive for me. Going within to communicate with my muse on the best action to take is a powerful connection for me.

  4. The whole field of book publishing and publicity has changed since the last century, which wasn’t that long ago. In a way, telling people about your book these days seems more like a person-to-person telegram from the olden days — with the whole world population as a potential audience! Each author takes on the personal responsibility of finding potential readers and convincing them to make a purchase. It’s a daunting task, particularly using blogs, Facebook or Twitter. Good luck, everyone!

    1. It is Ellen, so it helps to find one or two things that work for both you and your audience and stick with them. There just isn’t enough to do everything that might work!


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